Twins, MLB award $500K grant to Rochester food bank - FOX 13 News

Twins, MLB award $500K grant to Rochester food bank

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KMSP) -

The mid-summer classic may be over, but athletes aren't the only ones being recognized as "All-Stars" in Minnesota. In fact, more than half a million dollars will now go toward those who need it most.

"This is our new cooler. You can't see it yet. You can see there is brand new cement down there," Executive Director Jennifer Woodford demonstrated as she gave Fox 9 News a tour.

Since breaking ground last fall, the expansion of the Channel One Regional Food Shelf in Rochester is slowly become a reality -- but a new $500,000 grant from the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball is making paying for the newly-built warehouse a bit easier.

"I will say that, on Tuesday morning when I pulled into the parking lot, I breathed a little bit easier," Woodford admitted. "Kind of smiled a little bigger when I saw the building and thought, 'Okay, we're close. We can finish this.'"

Before the Home Run Derby, Woodford was one of 7 non-profits vying for the "All-Star Fans Choose" grant.

"I felt a little bit going into it like it was the Hunger Games of nonprofit grants granting -- in a great way," she reflected.

When Channel One moved into its current facility 20 years ago, they were distributing about 1 million pounds of food each year. Since then, they have grown 10 fold, and whether they won the grant or not, the largest food bank in southeast Minnesota had already committed to doubling capacity.

"Then, the announcer was saying, 'and the wining project, the project that's going to win $500,000 is the project that's adding 20,000 square feet of warehouse space,'" Woodford remembered. "That's about the last thing I remember because I knew at that point that they were talking about our project, and that meant we have won."

The half-million-dollar check from the Twins, MLB and the Pohlad Family Foundation will go a long way toward helping pay off the $1.7 million cost of construction.

"It was just such an amazing moment and such a feeling of gratitude, of pride for our organization, for our entire community and our region that supported the project," Woodford said. "Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Now, the food shelf is moving forward with its plans to expand services as well as offerings. In fact, the biggest growth they've seen in recent years has been fresh produce and perishable items. Some of the grant money will help pay for an expansion of the cold storage by 50 percent -- but the plans don't stop there.

"That's where we will have our new teaching kitchen and community classroom," Woodford continued. "We want to do nutrition education. We want to offer classes -- potentially budgeting, parenting, nutrition targeted at seniors."

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